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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Fools vs. scoundrels

Bob King's failed promise and labor's peril

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When Bob King became head of the incredible shrinking United Auto Workers union two years ago, the word was that he wanted to be the greatest UAW leader since the legendary Walter Reuther.

Instead, he seems more likely to be remembered as the worst leader the union has ever had, and he has a year and a half to go before the UAW will mercifully replace him.

The autoworkers union was well on its way to its all-time high of 1.5 million members when Reuther died in a plane crash near Pellston in 1970. Today, it has barely one-fourth of that. Actually, membership has risen a tiny bit in the last year, as the domestic automakers have come back from their near-death experience. But the union still has only 380,000 members, and about one-third of those are in non-automotive occupations.

Most new hires now come in at a second-class wage scale of less than $30,000 a year. Two-tier wage scales were one of the many things unions wanted to prevent, back in the day.

To which today's leaders say: Well, hey. Someday we'll be strong again.

When King got elected in June 2010, he vowed to pursue "equality of gain," under which the rich guys running the corporations would share their renewed profits with the workers.

Right. OK, if you are finished laughing bitterly, he also vowed to begin organizing the "transplants," the auto factories, mostly in the South, owned by foreign companies.

When King became president, the UAW represented workers at none of these plants. Today, well ... the union represents workers at none of these plants. The union was, however, reportedly handing out material a few months ago at a new Volkswagen plant in Tennessee.

Be still, my beating heart. The King-led UAW's biggest mistake, however, one that must have depleted the union's treasury, came this year. The UAW threw everything it had behind the drive to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.

They spent millions. Opponents spent millions, and the unions lost, big-time. The collective bargaining amendment went down roughly 57 percent to 42 percent. Voters in Flint and Detroit supported it, and it got killed virtually everywhere else.

Not surprisingly, Republicans in the Legislature are now gleefully jumping on this as a chance to destroy unions once and for all, by making Michigan a "right-to-work" state, like Indiana.

That would mean the union shop, where all workers have to join a union, or agree to be represented by it, would be outlawed. For all practical purposes, that would mean unions would be absolutely powerless, and would probably soon become extinct.

State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) is salivating over the prospect of introducing a RTW bill. Shirkey owns a nonunion rivet-making factory in Jackson County, and claims "businesses will not be able to survive unless they treat people right and pay people right."

Yes, I think that's what the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory said, as they locked all those young women in before they burned to death in that famous fire in 1911. Shirkey seems to have gotten up a hate for union work rules when he worked half a year in some GM plants decades ago. Now, few would deny that there has been a lot of silliness and inefficiency in certain unions. But a lot of that has been wrung out of them, especially, perhaps, the battered UAW. American auto factories today aren't the same place as in 1970.

But there's no evidence that unions aren't needed, or that businesses flock to right-to-work states. Minnesota and Vermont, where unions are protected, have among the nation's lowest unemployment rates. Former Detroiter Art Kainz notes that his adopted North Carolina, a RTW state, has unemployment higher than Michigan's. There, he told me, Sunday a Japanese seatbelt manufacturer in Greensboro just announced plans to close.

Sayonara, job security.

Gov. Rick Snyder has repeatedly said right to work "is not on my agenda." But if an RTW bill lands on his desk, he is all but certain to sign it. There were reports late last week that he was open to trying to kill the bill if unions agreed to, essentially, roll over and play dead. 

My guess is that won't fly. Republicans have the votes either now or in the next session to pass right to work if they want to, possibly thanks again to the stupidity of Bob King and his sidekick, perpetual Democratic State Chair Mark Brewer. 

Imagine if the union had taken the money — as much as $20 million — spent on the collective bargaining amendment and used it instead on a carefully targeted attempt to win control of the Legislature.

Democrats did gain five seats in the House last month, after losing a staggering 20 seats, and control, two years before. But Republicans still control the chamber, 59 seats to 51.

Had a mere 3,000 votes switched in the right places, Democrats would now be able to block any of the GOP's crazier bills.

Last week, for example, Michigan refused to create a state-run health care exchange, to help uninsured residents and small businesses find health care policies, now that President Obama's affordable care act is kicking in.

Republicans are supposed to be for local control. But they refused to create a health care exchange, and left that to the federal government. Why? Because they don't like Obamacare.

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